‘Nothing Like Being Home’: 120 National Guardsmen Arrive Home After Year in the Middle East

August 1, 2020 Updated: August 1, 2020

After a year-long deployment in the Middle East, 120 North Carolina National Guard Soldiers have touched down state side and were met with a hero’s welcome.

On July 25, men and women from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) landed at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and donning masks, they were greeted by senior National Guard members as they disembarked the aircraft.

Elbow bumps and words of congratulation were exchanged.

“Nothing like being home,” exclaimed ABCT truck driver Pfc. Qurita Patterson, as quoted by WTSP.

Epoch Times Photo
(Robert Jordan/U.S. Army National Guard)
Epoch Times Photo
(Robert Jordan/U.S. Army National Guard)

The North Carolina National Guard posted footage on Facebook showing its members disembarking the plane, and netizens left welcoming comments and messages of gratitude for the returning troops.

The 30th ABCT, nicknamed “Old Hickory,” had been stationed in the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield; it had been the team’s task to provide M2A2 Bradley combat vehicles and protect critical infrastructure from ISIS during their deployment, reports DVIDS Hub.

The year-long mission was Old Hickory’s third deployment since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York.

North Carolina Army National Guard (NCARNG) Brig. Gen. Allen Boyette called the soldiersreturn a “special day,” adding, “It was a long road with train-up and mission.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Robert Jordan/U.S. Army National Guard)

Boyette acknowledged the second big event of the day: besides their safe return, the 120 soldiers were honored with a World War Two Presidential Unit Citation at the division’s headquarters in Clinton, North Carolina. The citation was awarded in recognition of the division’s bravery and heroism at the Battle of Mortain in northwestern France over 76 years ago.

The welcoming home was an encouraging sight for military families across the nation.

The Department of Defense had extended the 60-day Stop Movement order for overseas travel on April 2o, reports Military One Source, thus disrupting travel plans, causing delays to anticipated arrival dates, and prolonging periods of separation between military personnel and their families.

Epoch Times Photo
(Robert Jordan/U.S. Army National Guard)

A number of overseas troops did make it home before the Stop Movement order went into effect, however.

Roughly 1,350 U.S. soldiers from the Army’s 25th Infantry Division returned home from Thailand in the second week of April to get ahead of the spreading pandemic in the region. The soldiers had been deployed as part of the Army’s Pacific Pathways program, an ongoing mission to increase U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, reports Army Times.

“Leadership adjusted the timeline of the exercise based on an assessment that the unit had achieved its initial training objectives,” U.S. Army Pacific spokesman Col. Derrick W. Cheng explained, “and with obvious consideration to the evolving environment that COVID-19 presented.”

He added, “With the COVID situation, different countries are adjusting their [military-to-military] activities to include those exercises … We’re adjusting along with everybody else—the regional militaries–on what the rest of the year is going to look like.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Robert Jordan/U.S. Army National Guard)

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